Technical documentation is what helps your clients leverage the potential of your application or product. However, effective technical documentation is what truly boosts your business. Here, I share with you some tips on writing great documentation.
Write for Your Audience
Technical documentation is created for users that’s why the main purpose besides writing effective documentation is to learn your target audience. However, it can be challenging. Here are some tips how you can gather information about your audience:
- Gather a focus group. First of all, examine the product that you will describe and think over challenges that your users can face. Based on this information, define the purpose and main topics of the interview. Be able to explain the purpose of the interview and what the main topics are that you will be asking about. Then, prepare questions and learn your interview protocol — review the questions, make sure you are familiar with questions and think about how much time you will need to spend on each question to spend time effectively.
- Ask your support team. As technical writers closely work with other team members, you can interview your support team for this purpose. They clearly know what users don’t understand, this information will be helpful for creating the right questions.
- Use Google Analytics. Google Analytics is a great tool for gathering information about your audience, it provides you with the potential clients age, location, interests and the like.
Format for Accessibility
Accessibility is another thing that you must pay attention to. Nowadays, devices, software, and technical documentation should be formatted according to accessibility rules. For software, there are two main guidelines — Section 508 and WCAG. For web content, you can follow WCAG recommendations, as well.
The WCAG documents explain how to make web content more accessible to people with disabilities. Web “content” generally refers to the information on a web page or web application, including:
- natural information such as text, images, and sounds
- code or markup that defines the structure, presentation, etc.
Of course, you need some time to learn those recommendations, but here are some tips that you can follow right now: Accessibility and Technical Writing.
Keep in Mind Your Goal
Writing documentation is not a goal itself, the purpose of any piece of documentation is to teach. When you think about your target audience, you also must consider what knowledge you wish the reader to leave with. Too much or too little information will confuse your readers.
The best way is to determine an end goal — what you want your readers to be able to perform.
What are your keys to good technical documentation?